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Ovarian Cancer

Finding Ovarian Cancer In Earlier Stages in Northern Colorado

Diagnosis of ovarian cancer is critical to a patient’s health. Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries. Normally, the ovaries are small – about the size of an almond and produce eggs, estrogen, and progesterone.  Due to vague symptoms and difficulty in diagnosing cancer in the ovaries it often goes undetected until it has spread. In the later stages, ovarian cancer is tough to treat. When confined to the ovary, ovarian cancer is much easier to treat. The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado helps diagnose and guide women through ovarian cancer in Loveland and Fort Collins, CO and help women to find a gynecological oncologist who provide treatment.

Signs And Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Most patients do not experience symptoms until they have advanced-stage ovarian cancer. Some signs of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Pelvic Area Discomfort
  • Changes in Bowel Habits
  • Frequent Urination
  • Weight Loss
  • Abdominal Swelling and bloating

Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer

Cancer starts when a cell mutates in its DNA, growing and multiplying and creating a mass of abnormal cells. These cells take over the ovary and destroy normal cells.  Cancer cells may then break off and spread to other areas of the body – a process called metastasis.  The diagnosis of ovarian cancer can be very challenging in the early stages.  At regular women’s health exams, a healthcare professional will feel your ovaries and uterus for their shape, size, and consistency. If you have an abnormality on your exam or have other concerning symptoms you may need a TVUS (transvaginal ultrasound) that uses sound-waves to look at your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus in more detail.  This will allow the doctor to detect ovarian cysts or masses. Most masses are not cancerous.  Sometimes A CA-125 blood test which measures CA-125, a protein in the blood that may be elevated in some women in ovarian cancer. High levels of CA-125 are also commonly found when women have pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis as well as other benign conditions.  Other blood tests as well as a CT scan are needed at times.  The ultimate diagnosis is made surgically when the ovary or mass is removed and the tissue is examined under a microscope.

Ovarian Cancer Types

There are different types of ovarian cancer, including:

  • Stromal Tumors –Begin in the hormone-producing cell deep in the ovaries, often diagnosed at an early stage.
  • Epithelial Tumors –90 percent of tumors are epithelial, beginning in the thin layer of tissue outside the ovaries.
  • Germ Cell Tumors –These are rare tumors that begin in the egg-producing cells, often found in younger women.

Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

Risks that increase the likelihood of ovarian cancer include:

  • Women who are Overweight or obese
  • Women with Childbirth later in life or no pregnancies
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Women who have had breast cancers.
  • Women with family members with ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer
  • Women who have a genetic mutation in BRCA 1, BRCA 2 or who have Lynch syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, MUTYH-associated polyposis
  • Women who have undergone Fertility treatment
  • Smoking

Prevention of Ovarian Cancer

There’s no way to completely prevent ovarian cancer. You can reduce your risk a few ways. Ask your doctor if birth control pills are a right choice for your body. Some women that take oral contraceptives have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, speak with your doctor about it. They can determine if you are at a higher risk and screen you on a more frequent basis. Your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling to decide if genetic testing is best for you. If you have a gene mutation that increases your risks, you can have surgery to remove your ovaries.

Ovarian Cysts vs. Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer are different things. Ovarian cysts often resolve in their own time. Most people have no idea they even have them. Many times, when ovarian cysts produce symptoms, they mimic ovarian cancer symptoms. These may include bloating, pain, menstrual irregularities, and abdominal pain. Ovarian cysts sometimes produce unusual growth of facial and body hair. If a cyst ruptures, you may experience sudden sharp pain, nausea, and fever. This requires emergency medical attention. When a mass is found, doctors perform additional tests to find the type of cyst. The doctor will determine if treatment is needed. Other ways to find a cyst include a positive pregnancy test when the patient is not pregnant. A doctor may perform a transvaginal ultrasound to study the mass’s size, shape, and location. If the doctor believes it is a benign cyst, they will watch it regularly to study any growth or resolution.

Contact The Women’s Clinic Today

Ovarian cancer is easier to treat the earlier it is found. It’s important to have regular screening. We’re in your corner, helping to fight ovarian problems. We’ll guide you each step of the way when you feel there is something wrong. Whether you have ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer, we’ll help you find the best treatments for your lifestyle. Contact us to make an appointment today!